Jaguar has just unveiled the latest in its concept lineup: The 4×4 family-hauling C-X17.
The lightweight crossover will form the basis for a new range of future Jaguars; the first product will be a mid-size premium sedan of diesel and conventional engine variants launching in 2015 (North America in 2016).
The C-X17 is most definitely not the C-X75 hybrid supercar the Tata-owned brand unveiled in Paris in 2010, though they both were displayed outside Harrods earlier this week. That one is an 850-horsepower whip with a seven-speed manual transmission and a 0-to-100 mph sprint time of six seconds.
It was a fitting parking place for the 91-year-old British marque to generate hype and show off its latest development mules for lightweight aluminum engineering (X17) and electric battery technology (X75). But I must admit my reaction to the stunt after reading the C-X17 specs was a disheartening sense of boredom—ennui, even—about the whole situation.
The fact that the vehicle won’t be offered in an electric-only option, and that the C-X75 has only a 20-mile gas-free driving range, sum the gist of the problem.
In the past few years Audi , BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, among other luxury automakers, have shown off alt-energy concepts meant to herald the future of their brand. The V12 Ferrari LaFerrari, for instance, will go to 62 miles per hour in fewer than 3 seconds, with a top speed of 217mph. (It’ll hit 120mph in seven seconds.) It’s also a hybrid, which ushers Ferrari into a new crop of elite supercar hybrids like the McLaren P1.
But the LaFerrari is practically a one-off vehicle, made for the super rich and anything but a daily driver. And there is still a long disconnect between the ultra-light, aggressive looking fuel-sippers we see on car show podiums—most are not anywhere near street legal and would be outlandishly, embarrassingly expensive to produce at volume—and the hybrid and electric cars available for sale today.*
Why haven’t we progressed to the point where these concepts can hit the road in large quantities without being completely neutered? We’ve had electric technology in cars since 1899 [please see: La Jamais Contente (1899), Milburn Electric Sedan (1918), Nic-L-Silver Pioneer (1958)] and plenty of modern false starts [please see: GM EV1 (1996), Venturi Fetish (2005), Namir Concept (2009)], but nothing seems to stick.
Good intentions indeed abound—with gas prices averaging $3.35 per gallon and fewer young drivers aspiring toward car ownership, automakers are rightly pushing their R&D departments to develop vehicles that better fit consumers’ evolving lifestyles—but these solitary lightweight, hybrid and electric concept vehicles are paltry offerings with no apparent relevance to today’s driver. It’s talk without tangibility.
Aside from Tesla’s Model S, BMW’s i8 and Porsche’s 918 Spyder are among the most promising of the lot, practically speaking. The i8 is due out next spring, and the electric technology in the 2015 918 has already proved its mettle on the race course.
I like what the C-X17 and C-X75 represent—and indeed, the forward-thinking vision that all of these cars represent is crucial to the auto industry. I also appreciate the C-X17’s four-adult seating configuration, panoramic roof and leather trim and the C-X75’s admirable top speed (200-plus mph) and stylish body.
Source - forbes.com
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